I don’t know if this is breaking some cyber protocol (oh, but I don’t much care if I am) but I want to put Jordan Carter‘s post on Helen Clark’s speech up here on The Standard.
The reason is that while I agree with a lot of what IrishBill said – mainly that her speech was worthy but dull and a missed opportunity – I think what Jordan says is worth attention and wanted to link it but the such is the nature of commentary on these blogs that by the end of 60+ rants and ravings amongst the serious stuff and everyone just wandering off the topic, Helen’s speech no longer felt relevant. So I’m putting it up here instead. Thanks JC.
Helen’s speech this morning was a substantive contribution to the youth policy debate. The new announcements – youth apprenticeships and a higher age before people can be free of training or education – contrasts nicely with Key’s more negative effort the day before.
The speech also located that policy in the broader context. You can’t slice and dice our society and our world. The bits all relate to each other. Clark was saying that youth will grow up best in a society that looks after all of us. She wants a policy that brings everyone to the height of their talents, not only one that punishes people for getting things wrong.
So that is why she can properly pin responsibility for many of today’s youths’ problems on the previous National government. Key dismissed that on Morning Report this morning, showing again how little he understands public policy. He said, what happens 18 yrs ago is irrelevant. He’s wrong. National was in power for a decade and systematically sought to undermine the welfare state and the decent society.
A whole generation – my generation – has been scarred for life by that approach to politics and public life. We are the children of the revolution and the only miracle is that more of us are not disasters.
It takes years and decades to build up a decent society, but it’s a lot quicker to wreck one. National and Labour proved that well in the 1980s and 1990s. Painful, slow progress has been made since. National just offers a return to the past.
Back to Clark’s speech. It was, as the headline suggests, not a captivating or stylish speech. That isn’t Helen Clark’s style. She is a serious politician who cares about solving the problems. While I (and others) might wish for a more visionary style of speaking, that isn’t what she does. Shes does fact and plain honest policy.
Somehow in these days of soundbites, presidential campaigning, slick Hollow Men-style inoculations, that is a reassuring thought.